Bumper Stickers, T-shirts, and Mean Tweets

It comes as no surprise to me, but Donald Trump has once again gone too far with nasty tweets, this time about the co-hosts of Morning Joe. His comments, which would have earned a third grader a week of detention, went far beneath the dignity of the office of President of the United States. To say I am disturbed and disgusted would be an understatement.

What disturbs me more is that Trump’s staff defended him.

A number of politicians have called him to task for his comments, but Trump will not likely face any consequence of note.

Whatever happened to the return to civility that was promised just two weeks ago after the shooting of people practicing for an upcoming baseball game among Congressmen? It lasted about a day before both sides were once again sniping at each other.

The bigger question is where did all this meanness come from? It’s been around for a long time. (Just ask any woman who survived 8th grade, and she will tell you all about the mean girl culture at her school. I remember it, and I was in the 8th grade way back in the 1960s.)

A few years ago, I was sitting in my car at a stoplight downtown in our very conservative, Republican town. I had just pasted an “Obama-Biden” bumper sticker on my car. Someone behind me honked. I looked in the rear view mirror, expecting to see a negative look or impolite gesture. To my surprise and delight, I saw a good friend giving me the thumbs up sign. We have laughed about that from time to time. It’s hard to live in a community whose politics don’t match your own. You have to laugh about it now and again.

For years, people have worn their politics, religion, and world outlook on their cars and  T-shirts. While some of the slogans they display are cute or inane, they often point to a latent meanness; the printed words often relay things the wearer or driver might not say to your face, but the sentiment is hard to miss.

On an evening walk through my neighborhood one day, I passed a pickup with a tailgate full of hateful, chilling slogans that announced the owner carried weapons and would not hesitate to use them at the slightest provocation. I shivered as I walked by. I cannot bring myself to repeat those slogans here.

Conservatives are not alone in their meanness. Progressives and liberals say their share of things that are none too nice.

Bullying and incivility have always been with us. It seems more prominent in this age of social media and instant news. I wish I knew how to make it go away. I want people to be nice to each other.

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us to “do to others what you would have them do to you…” (Matthew 7:12)  We would do well to remember and act upon His instruction. It would solve a lot of the world’s problems.

Bible pix

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